A new system to gauge acquired skills?

AACC President Walter Bumphus and Sheree Utash, president of WSU Tech in Kansas and a member of the AACC board of directors, join presidential advisor Ivanka Trump, who co-chairs the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board. (Photo: Jen Worth/AACC)

A national workforce policy advisory board convened by the White House is recommending an ambitious system to record all the credentials, skills and work-related experiences attained by Americans so workers and employers can more accurately determine job qualifications.

The so-called “interoperable learning record” (ILR) was among the recommendations presented Wednesday at a meeting in Washington, D.C. of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board, which provides advice and recommendations to the interagency National Council for the American Worker on ways to encourage the private sector and educational institutions to address the skills crisis.

The advisory board comprises more than two dozen top representatives from business and industry, government, education and other organizations. Three of the board members come from the community college sector: Walter Bumphus, president and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges; Jay Box, president of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System; and Sheree Utash, president of WSU Tech in Kansas.

One record with all the info

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, who co-chaired a working group that made recommendations related to data transparency, said the potential use for the ILR system is enormous. It could include 160,000 learners, more than six million employers, 700,000 unique credentials, 23,000 apprenticeship programs and 7,000 higher education institutions.

Unlike resumes, ILRs would create a common approach to create, maintain and share skills-related credentials and validation of learning, according to an outline of the recommendation.

“As a result, American workers would be able to share ILRs with employers to attain the best jobs that more directly match their skill sets,” it said.

“There are endless benefits of a simple, effective and easy-to-use interoperable learning record,” added Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP and co-chair of the working group, which also provided a white paper on the proposal. “ILRs are a way to communicate skills between workers, employers and training institutions so we have a single source of the truth.”

Maybe a name change

Holcomb and McDermott joked that the ILR would add to the growing list of government and policy acronyms, but the name may change. AACC’s Bumphus noted that the ILR premise makes sense, but he questioned whether the name was too jargony for the public to use. Several board members seemed to agree, and floated alternative names such as “shared learning record” or “boarding pass to a career.”

Presidential advisor Ivanka Trump, who co-chaired the board, said the team would gather suggestions from the board on the name, noting that it’s important to get the name right to get the public to embrace the idea.

“We want this to be accessible on everyone’s iPhone and at everyone’s fingertips,” she said. “This is the resume of the future.”

AACC President Walter Bumphus at Wednesday’s meeting of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Commerce Department)

Other recommendations

The working groups drafted recommendations to implement four broad strategies:

On Wednesday, the groups presented their recommendations to the full board for approval. The group that focused on developing a promotional campaign pitched using real-life stories of workers in successful careers that didn’t require a bachelor’s degree. Its plan would include a yearlong advertising campaign and a website that would include more information. The goal is to change the public’s misperceptions of career and technical jobs, according to group members.

The working group focused on recruitment and training suggested better coordination and sharing of state and federal data on education, training and jobs. It noted that better use of data in areas with continued high unemployment is especially important.

Finally, the group examining employer-led training investments recommended developing national measures of such training efforts to quantify the effects and to show value to employees and employers.

Jay Box, president of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, chats with Ivanka Trump. (Photo: Jay Box)

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
is editor of Community College Daily and serves as publications director for the American Association of Community Colleges.